As a person who enjoys character-driven games, Yakuza 0 definitely satisfies that love. This is my introduction to the series, and the biggest surprise was amount of lengthy dialogue you sit through.
It’s both a blessing and a curse (although those opposite sides of the spectrum may be too extreme). It’s both fun and boring.
(Please note, this article contains some spoilers from Chapters 1 – 6)
The way dialogue is presented varies depending on the type of plot:
- Main storyline cutscenes with scrolling captions
- Main storyline conversations with boxed captions, you hear the characters talk to each other
- Main storyline conversations, where you only see a still of the character while it’s accompanied by a caption
- Side storyline conversations with boxed captions, you only hear the character if they have an onomatopoeia (example, “Ehhhh?!?!?!”)
The constant changing of conversation feels like controlled chaos. I will question why something was shown in a specific way and how it contributes to my experience. For example, I don’t quite see the point for #3 and occasionally it feels out of place. Then I think of the game holistically with its streamlined and cutting elements, and stylistically it makes a lot more sense.
I enjoy most of the dialogue with the main storyline, even the filler. The “filler” is important to relationship building, helping me care more about our long-term characters. I’ve passed Chapter 4, and the game spent a good 10 minutes of Majima and Makoto talking and getting to know each other over a massage. I also enjoy even the simple conversations Kiryu and Nishikiyama have together over ramen or fancy karaoke joints. These feel more natural and easier to digest.
The dialogue for substories are definitely hit or miss, especially if I can’t relate to them. With over 100 side missions, you’re bound to encounter your personal bad apple. The best example that comes to mind is the man trying to cross the bridge in Sotenbori with his “special” jacket, which gets him beaten up every time he attempts walking across. I didn’t particularly find this one funny, and it just dragged on. I can’t even skip over these! With each line, the player must press “X” to proceed, so I can’t go to the bathroom or multitask during these missions.
The substories I do enjoy come down to personal preference, as I tend to enjoy the sides involving family themes and more emotional themes. I loved the one when Kiryu helps a kid find his stolen video game, and I also love the one where you save a mother’s daughter from a cult (Shooreh Pippi!!) Of course, even these have their unnecessary long moments.
It’s easy to feel the dialogue fatigue, but brave through because all these talking points are important as you progress. Aside from learning about the story and the characters themselves, finishing side missions grant you a big payoff when you start taking control of Kiryu’s real estate business. When I’m burnt out, I strike the balance. Because there are so many conversations, I like doing activities (karaoke, fishing, weapon search, etc.) as much as possible before I commit to a lot of reading, for example. Don’t take these conversations for granted.